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Friday, December 15 2017

Be Born…in Me


“Be Born in Me” by Frances Battistelli is my favorite contemporary Christmas song of late. When I first heard it, it resonated deeply in my soul and spirit, and my mind couldn’t let go of it! The cry of Mary’s heart right after she learned that as an unwed teenager she was pregnant and about to become  the mother of the Son of God…was, an astounding one:


“I am the Lord’s servant…may it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)


WHAT? It’s easy to brush this off and say, “Of course she would respond like she was chosen by God to be the mother of King Jesus. Of course, God would give her the grace to respond that way.  And, we might even think, “Shew, it’s a good thing I will never have to worry about my response to that kind of news! “


Yet, is it just for Mary? Are we not all carriers of King Jesus in a way?  Is this not what CHRISTmas is all about? And, is not Advent a call to reevaluate ”the inn of our own hearts”? Emmanuel, God WITH US.  Holy Spirit, Counselor, God in us! (John 15:26).


What does this mean for you and me?  What does it mean to allow Christ to be “born” in us? These lyrics in the song, say it all for me:


“I am not brave, I'll never be.
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy.
I'm just a girl, nothing more.
But I am willing, I am Yours.”


Much like Mary and Joseph, you and I have NOTHING to give God, but our willingness and a place in our own hearts.  We can make room in the ”inn of our hearts” to receive Jesus and allow His power to work through us.


We are NOT brave in and of ourselves, no good thing we do or are, can be good enough for our Holy God.


YET, in the hands of Emmanuel--God with us; God in us--our hearts can become a place that God inhabits and thus new life is born. And in doing so, anywhere God sends  us (or we just happen to beJ),  we have His presence and power. As we cultivate awareness and ask the Holy Spirit to build our confidence in this reality, we can make more of an impact in others’ lives.


In this Advent season, as we celebrate Jesus’ arrival,  and as we experience the tension and yearning for the ”not yet” completion of His final coming, we have the opportunity to let God search our hearts and minds and point out any offensive way in us (Psalm 139:23-24).


Isn’t it interesting that the scriptures specifically refer to ”anxious thoughts”?  Perhaps, the biggest obstacle keeping Christ from being ”born in us,” is our inability or unwillingness to REST in the finished work of Jesus. Because you and I, as Christ followers, DO know the end of the story.  He did come to save the world from sin and evil. This is THE GOOD NEWS of Christmas.


We can allow the Holy Spirit to ready the ”inn of our hearts” for more of Jesus, by being honest with Him about our anxious thoughts (including our fears). This means more than just telling Him about them, but literally through prayer and repentance, handing them over to Him, so He can exchange them for His Peace, which is an indicator of His presence in our hearts.


 This is how you and I, simple folks like Mary and Joseph, can usher in more of His presence in every situation we are placed in.  This excavation of our own hearts is how Jesus’ power and peace can be released into our hurting world.


We can’t solve everyone’s problems, or our nation’s ills, but we CAN allow more room in our hearts for Christ to be “born in us.” Then we ARE doing our part to bring His solution into our world, one person at a time, one situation at a time.


One person, allowing God to do what He desires in your heart…just like Mary…What a gift to give Jesus.


Merry CHRISTmas to all! 

Posted by: Angel AT 04:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

Benefits of Weariness


WOW! How weary I am. And so are many of you. I know because I hear your cries: in my office, on the phone, online, in church, at the grocery store, you name it! So much of what I hear from people today is about how tired, weary, and worn-out they feel.

Then again, you may not feel weary;  instead you may feel anxious, depressed, scared, lonely, angry, or any mixture of these emotions. Perhaps these are more your prominent feelings.


However you may feel, it’s too easy to look for the source or to find blame: social media; busy schedules; technology; work/family demands; the causes are endless. Of course, these have validity, and we can certainly manage them in more appropriate and successful ways.


Yet, as I sit with God today, in my quiet time, and look over my journals, what I see is the benefit of weariness—the benefit of our broken feelings and situations.

 I see, time and time again, over the years (yes, I am rebellious and slow-learning, and God is very, very patient), God working in me and through me, enabling me to receive His antidote to this tough life and all of its problems. 


It is so simple; and yet it is so hard.


It is HIM: Jesus; always more of Him.


“But,” you say, “Angel, I have to know what to do with my children,” or, “Angel, these bills are piling up,” or, “Angel, you don’t have a CLUE of how bad it really is.”


And I will say, “You are right, I don’t. And you are correct, these things need to be taken care of.” 


BUT FIRST, we have a larger need. Oh, the catch is it doesn’t appear like the larger need. Our core need, before bills, children, purpose in life, change in our feelings, is to be convinced, truly convinced and accepting of God’s love for us and our identity as His children.


And your heart and head may rebel like mine did.


“BUT, I need to know the answer to my problem.” 

And Jesus says:

“I am the answer.”

“I am so tired.”

And Jesus says:

“I know. Let me restore you.”

“I am afraid.”

And Jesus says:

“I know, and my love will take care of that.”


That just doesn’t seem like much; doesn’t seem like enough, when we are about to be evicted or our kids are in harm’s way. That support just doesn’t seem practical enough for our human brains to rest on.


Perhaps then we’ve hit on the real source or problem of our weariness: ourselves. You and me believing that if we work hard enough, try enough, worry enough, take enough time to figure it out, talk enough to that person, ignore it long enough—whatever your “enough” is—WE can fix it. The true problem is that it’s all about US!


We want to stay in the driver’s seat and be our own savior. Or we look to other humans to be that for us. If we believe our answer lies in us or other humans, we are likely to stay in that “out of control” anxious space, and the weariness or depression or addictions are bound to take over. There can only be one driver in our car of life.


The benefit of our struggle is to be wooed into the true solution. Life’s struggles are an invitation to know God more intimately. As we allow Jesus, who is ALIVE, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, to become more real for us, more tangible, as we take Him at His word (Hebrews 13:5), as we choose to focus on Him and His promises, instead of the problems or feelings we are having, then we start to experience the reality of His presence with us.  With this, we begin to experience the peace He promises.

Why? Because our problems have been solved? The bills have all been paid? The feelings change?

NO…  peace comes from HIS presence. And in that place of peace we can see clearer, hear more accurately, and receive wisdom and direction.


As we “bend our knee” to Jesus’ love, dare to take Him at His word (John 3:16), choose to look to Him and depend on Him, and keep (John 17) depending on Him, then His life-blood starts to flow through us. It revives us, directs us, and transforms our thinking and feelings. Then life and all of its troubles, which are many (John 16:33), become manageable, doable.


Breath comes; rest comes; peace comes.


In this place new life springs forth. New ideas emerge and joy is eventually restored.


Struggling today? Rejoice in it, because it is calling you back home. Home to His heart of love (Romans 8:38-39), the place of true peace and rest. 

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